Your first use will probably be as a document store. Why use this rather than the drive letter folder structure that you’ve used for years? Well with SharePoint’s document stores, you can setup as many as you like and have many extra features such as:
- Version control, you can revert to any previous saved version
- Check out allows you to know if anyone else is working on the file
- Check In function allows you to have an approval process before it replaces the previous version
- Alerting – get an email as soon as a file changes or a summary email later
- Collaboration – allows multiple people to edit a file at the same time, seeing each other’s changes as soon as they are typed
- Accessibility – it’s a web site so you can access it from anywhere with no Complex VPNs, etc. provided it’s published with a security certificate.
These document folders (which can hold any type of file) can be automatically created when for instance you create an account or opportunity in CRM. That way they are sensibly named and the files relating to that account or opportunity can be kept in a place where everyone can file them.
SharePoint Portal Sites
It’s very easy with SharePoint to create a web page that has different information, or what are called parts, on it. These can be used to provide sets of information to people both internally and externally.
One page can have:
- Any display of information from Dynamics NAV, for instance a list of orders or items, resources or people.
- Any list of information from CRM, activities, opportunities, accounts, cases.
- Document stores
- Hyperlinks to relevant sites or information
- Announcements, discussions or tweets
- Calendar or email linked to a O365 account
- External web site pages
What this allows you to do is create specific sites very quickly. That might be a site for a internal project that has the documents relating to that project, the contacts from CRM and the budget information from NAV displayed (graphically using a PowerBI chart?) along with a calendar of events, a SharePoint list of outstanding issues and a discussion area. I’m used to using just such a project site for all the projects I’m involved in where we invite the people outside my Organisation to participate to.
Another common one is a vendor portal. Listing outstanding purchase orders from NAV and allowing them to update key bits of information, usually only the due date, means they know exactly what’s expected. Being able to see the net prices and discount you have setup for them and propose changes which you then have to approve is another common one. Finally being able to see the usage and even expected demand on the items they are the preferred or authorised vendor for might enable them to do their own forecasting better, meaning you don’t have to and they have less excuses for stock shortages.
With the integration to your back office systems just there and the communication and security taken care of for you all non-sales web sites should be built using SharePoint.
This post is part of a 5-part series. A link to rest of the posts in this series are below;